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Member of any of a group of Protestant churches that arose in the U.S. in the 19th century and believe that the Second Coming of Christ is close at hand. Adventism was founded during a period marked by millennialism by William Miller (1782–1849), a former U.S. army officer, who asserted that Christ would return to separate saints from sinners and inaugurate his 1,000-year kingdom on earth sometime in the year before March 21, 1844. After that date passed, Miller and his followers set a new date, Oct. 22, 1844. The Great Disappointment was followed by a Mutual Conference of Adventists in 1845. Those who persisted concluded that Miller had misinterpreted the signs and that, though Christ had begun the cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary, he would not appear until he had completed that task. These Millerites founded the Seventh-Day Adventists in 1863; other Adventist groups include the Evangelical Adventists and the Advent Christian Church. Seventh-Day Adventists observe Saturday as the Sabbath and avoid eating meat and using narcotics or stimulants.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Adventist, visit Britannica.com.